Industrial Hygiene

Posted by Matt Bushey in #YHSafetyTips, Dec 27, 2017

Hygiene in an industrial application is defined as: …“that science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or among the citizens of the community”

Industrial hygiene has been steadily recognized over the past century as an important part of workplace safety. The U.S. federal agencies started investigating health in the industry in the early 1900’s. By the mid 1960’s and 1970, U.S. Congress passed 3 legislation acts related to worker’s health. These were: the Metal and Nonmetallic Mines Safety Act of 1966, the Federal Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1969, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act).

Worksite Analysis
An industrial hygienist takes this first step to determine what jobs could be the root of an issue. Exposures, problem tasks, and risks are all measured and taken into consideration. If and when the industrial hygienist finds a hazardous situation, recommendations are made to correct the issues.

What type of hazards are hygienic? Most of us only think of germs, but in industrial hygiene, many more aspects are taken into consideration. Potential hazards can include air contaminants, ergonomic, biological, chemical, and physical hazards.

Air Contaminants
Generally these are either particulate or gas and vapor contaminants.

  • Dusts
  • Fumes
  • Mists
  • Aerosols
  • Fibers

Ergonomic Hazards
Many of these problems are the result from increased speed, repetition, and poorly designed job tasks.
The science evaluates:

  • Lifting
  • Holding
  • Pushing
  • Walking
  • Reaching
  • Sitting
  • Positioning
  • Standing

Biological Hazards
Most commonly considered in homes, theses can include:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • And other living organisms

Chemical Hazards
These are in many different forms and can affect the worker in many different ways.
The compounds are in the form of:

  • Liquids
  • Solids
  • Mists
  • Fumes
  • Gases
  • Vapors through inhalation
  • Vapors through absorption
  • Vapors through ingestion

Physical Hazards
This can be exposure to certain elemental items such as:

  • Ionizing electromagnetic radiation
  • Nonionizing electromagnetic radiation
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Illumination
  • Temperature

In summary, industrial hygiene encompasses a broad spectrum of the working environment. Workplaces in America can become healthier and safer as they adhere to the principles of industrial hygiene in the workplace.

If you missed last week’s blog post on Mobile Cart Safety, click here.

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